Attracted by Wingham's growing reputation as a destination for foodies, Daniel Scott finds the Mid-North Coast town offers much more than a fine meal.
As we set off for our weekend in Wingham, in the Mid-North Coast hinterland near Taree, I'm sceptical that the small rural town (population 4600) will keep us occupied for two days. But as we explore the Manning Valley's oldest settlement we find it so full of excellent food, gripping history and beguiling nature that two days are nearly not enough.
We later discover plenty else to enjoy in the town but the main impulse for our visit is the growing reputation of Wingham's eateries. So it is appropriate that our first stop is for lunch at Bent On Food. This award-winning provedore and cafe is owned and run by Donna Carrier. She is the first of several formidable Wingham women we meet who are shaping the town as a destination for foodies.
Carrier particularly enjoys sourcing local products and is not afraid to mix them up in a plate of antipasto: marinated baby figs, smoked meats from Mentges Master Meats, Manning Valley cheeses and a dukkah dip. The combinations are inspiring and so are the surrounding shelves of produce. We walk away sated and with an arm full of gourmet condiments including my new favourite ingredient: a Mediterranean mix of rock salt, coarsely ground pepper and herbs